Home Authority & Legal Europe: Institute finds most labs can detect, identify food viruses accurately

Europe: Institute finds most labs can detect, identify food viruses accurately


The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark has tested how accurately reference laboratories from around the world are able to determine the identity and type of various food-related bacteria and their occurrence of antimicrobial resistance.

The performance test shows that the national reference laboratories’ determinations are of good quality and the majority can determine bacteria type and resistance accurately.

It is the thirteenth time that the institute carries out the performance test on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The National Food Institute serves as a WHO Collaborating Centre for antibiotic resistance in foodborne pathogens.

In this capacity the institute tests whether laboratories around the world are able to identify and type selected food-related bacteria and determine their occurrence of antimicrobial resistance.

Generally good results

The institute has tested how accurately 174 laboratories from 87 countries can identify a number of salmonella, campylobacter, shigella and E. coli bacteria and their resistance profile.

Results show that for the majority of the participating laboratories the determinations are of good quality.

As such they are able to correctly determine both identity and type of most of the bacteria as well as the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance.

As far as determination of antibiotic resistance in salmonella bacteria the result is the best recorded in the 13 years the laboratories have been tested.

It is important that laboratories carry out quality control as part of the test, which many laboratories do as a matter of routine. However, results from this test show that 8% of laboratories have not returned data on the part of the test that focuses on quality control.

WHO and the National Food Institute strongly advice laboratories not to neglect quality control and have therefore offered to send certified control bacteria to all new laboratories, which have not yet implemented quality control of these analyses.

Worldwide network

The National Food Institute’s test is conducted under the auspices of the WHO Global Foodborne Infections Network.

The network aims to globally build the skills necessary to detect, control and prevent foodborne and other intestinal infections throughout the food chain from farm to fork.

WHO has just launched a global action plan targeting antimicrobial resistance.

An aspect of the plan is a focus on identifying countries that underperform in performance tests and providing them with the help necessary to produce validated laboratory data that can be used to combat disease-causing bacteria and their resistance.

The institute’s performance test is one of the key tools in this plan.

Story by Miriam Meister from the Technical University of Denmark.